Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any related characters.
A/N: Hello there! So excited to post this venture into the ROMioneCOM world, a challenge that originated on the HPRomione Discord to create fics inspired by classic rom-coms. This one is loosely-based off of "The Wedding Date".
Huge shout-out to accio-broom for beta-ing this fic. Go check out her amazing stories!
The Wedding Date
Hermione Granger and Guest
Mr. and Mrs. Brown
Request the honor of your presence
At the marriage of their daughter
On Saturday the Eleventh of August
At three o'clock
St. Peter's Church
Hermione stared dismally at the invitation she held in her hand. Don't mistake her — she is absolutely thrilled for her best friend, Lavender. They've been the best of mates since uni, and Hermione has always admired Lavender's outgoing spirit and her ability to turn every situation into a bright, positive, and fun experience. She is truly happy that Lavender has found her lifetime partner in Seamus, a sweet and funny man who matches her character well.
What Hermione is decidedly not looking forward to is seeing her ex-fiance, Cormac McLaggen. They dated for almost seven years before he essentially broke her heart out of nowhere. She had been mortified, especially when facing the slew of questions her friends and family had as to why. Many were convinced that the pair would be married someday as they almost made it down the aisle. Now, their seven-year relationship was just a bitter memory that she wanted nothing more than to forget about.
With a final sigh, Hermione grabbed her keys and headed out the front door of her home, making her way down the busy streets during the Friday morning rush to work. She lived in a small, cosy flat in the town of Devon. She found the Country a nice change of pace for herself when she spontaneously moved away from her home in London two years ago following her disastrous break-up. She had craved for a change, in both her life and work endeavors, and had joined a non-profit organization in the social justice department as an advocate for low-income families looking for suitable housing. She takes great pride in her job and cherishes the feeling that she is making a difference in other people's lives.
Her mobile phone buzzed in her bag, causing Hermione to stop in the middle of the street to check the caller ID. Lavender. Of course, she smiled to herself before answering. "Morning, Lav."
"Hermione! I'm getting married!" She squealed into the phone so loudly that Hermione had to wince and pull the device back away from her ear.
"I'm well aware, Lav, no need to shout!" Hermione grumbled back in response. Lavender's perky energy was one trait that Hermione believed she would never be able to mimic. A car horn honked loudly, making Hermione jump in response, realising she needed to cross the street quickly, before she became one of those people who loses all sense of street smarts when talking on the phone.
"I'm just calling to see if you got my cocktail reception invitation yesterday?" Lavender inquired eagerly.
Hermione grinned knowingly, "I sure did. Opened it this morning before I left for work, set it down next to your wedding announcement. The invitations are beautiful, Lav, truly. It will be the most exquisite wedding."
"Well, it wouldn't all be possible without my maid of honour by my side. Which, by the way, when are you arriving into London again? Seamus and I absolutely cannot wait to see you!"
"Uh...Wednesday the 8th, mid-day," Hermione distractedly replied as she weaved her way through the noisy sidewalk crowded with people.
She could almost see Lavender frowning from the other side of the call. "That doesn't really leave you and your date a lot of time to get ready before the cocktail party."
"Yeah, listen Lav, about bringing a guest-"
"And no, you can't just decide that Harry will be your date as a way to get out of actually bringing someone!" Hermione rolled her eyes but secretly groaned, knowing full well that was exactly what she was planning to do. Harry Potter was her other best friend from uni, who she was also looking forward to seeing upon her return home. Harry was rather cynical and sarcastic most of the time and was the first to convince Hermione that she deserved a chance to get away and explore a different part of her life after the Cormac debacle.
"I'm not quite sure if I'll be able to scrounge up a date before next week, but I will try," Hermione offered. She honestly had no intention of actually finding a date at this point, but she knew it would appease her friend to inform her that she would at least make an attempt.
Lavender hummed briefly through the receiver, "You know, I could always set you up with-"
"No! Sorry, no blind dates. And I'm remaining firm on that!" Hermione interjected immediately. The last thing she needed was to be set up with a mystery guy and suffer yet another round of humiliation in front of her family when it doesn't work out.
"Well," Lavender tutted, "I can't wait to find out who you're bringing."
Yes, Hermione will certainly need to go out for a drink tonight.
"Two pints over here!"
"Sure thing, Colin!" Ron Weasley replied to one of his loyal customers.
He blew out a breath and flipped the rag he held in his hands over his shoulder as he meandered his way over to the tap to pour.
Ron owned a small pub in the village of Ottery St. Catchpole and relished the simple life. He had his pub, his family and enjoyed working with his employees and serving the customers he often saw regularly.
People often described his pub as very eclectic, as it hosted several traditional rackety, old wooden tables perched on top of the deep orange carpeting that covered the floors, along with mismatched wallpaper lining the walls. Yet, the pub itself felt very homey and inviting, and it was a fitting atmosphere for a small village like Ottery.
"Oi ickle Ronniekins, be a good lad and set your favorite brothers up with a couple of ales and a basket of crisps, would you?" Ron snorted and shook his head while wiping down the nearest open spot at the bar counter, watching as his older twin brothers, Fred and George, took the last two remaining seats at the bar.
"Should've known you two would show up at some point during the busiest hour during the daytime shift," Ron grumbled, yet grinned at their annoying attempt to provoke him.
"When are you off work? Think you'll be done in time to join us at the club this evening?" Fred was referring to The W, the swanky nightclub that the twins opened about a year ago in Devon, that had quickly become a smashing success for the two of them.
"I don't know, guys, I've gotta take Chudley to the vet early tomorrow morning. He's got a growth on his back leg that I'm concerned about, so I need to get it checked out," Ron responded, his eyebrows furrowed tightly for his eight-year old Jack Russell Terrier, who had been his most loyal companion since he rescued him as a wee pup. "And who knows how much that visit will cost, particularly if he actually needs treatment…" Ron murmured lowly, but it was loud enough to where his brothers could hear him.
Ron wasn't exactly struggling financially, but he didn't have a lot of extra money saved up for emergency medical expenses. He was just hoping that the growth was not something to be concerned about so that he doesn't have to figure out a way to fund his dog's care.
"You could bartend for us, you know," George suggested. "We could always use some extra help around the club, and we'd pay you, of course."
Ron debated the offer. He wasn't one to readily admit when he might need some financial support. Still, he figured it wouldn't be a bad idea to save up a little extra money in the event that Chudley did need a procedure or if another kind of emergency pops up.
He relented after a few minutes, "Alright, I suppose I could do that. Thanks."
Fred clapped him on the back with brotherly affection, "How about you start tonight then? We'll ease you into it."
"I may regret this after a long shift today and an early morning tomorrow, but sure. Why not?" Ron figured his life could do with a little mix up from his normal Friday evening routine, which usually consisted of a takeaway and a show on the telly, with Chudley curled up in his lap.
Hermione adjusted her pencil skirt and wobbled a bit on her heels as she stood outside the entrance to The W. Her co-worker had recommended the club and, as much as she begged her friend to join her, she was forced to brave a night out on the town by herself. She needed the liquid courage, she chanted to herself, and a night out to hopefully take her mind off of the wedding that was almost guaranteed to be quite eventful.
She walked inside and was immediately enraptured by the stylish venue, noting how the double doors opened up into a large and spacious main room, divided by an archway. The pièce de résistance of the place was the cobalt blue glass ceiling that served as a mirror for guests on the dance floor. One glance up, and she could see an entire spectrum of color shining back at her. Music pumped through several speakers lining the room, and Hermione's ears were left ringing from the pulsating electronic beats. The entire atmosphere was vibrant and lively.
Hermione navigated her way through the throng of people in search of the bar, which was located near the back and extended the entire width of the room. Impressed, Hermione wasted no time before ordering her first drink, sipping on her cocktail as she wandered around the club to explore. She found an empty table in a nearly deserted corner of the venue and decided it would be the ideal spot to people-watch.
She was halfway through her first drink when a rather boisterous group of women invaded her space and crowded around the table directly in front of her. It was a hen party, she was able to deduce quickly, once spotting the bride-to-be who appeared to be wearing a magenta-colored top that read "Future Mrs." in large, block letters. The ladies were shouting enthusiastically at each other over the volume of the music, many swaying on their feet, presumably due to the influence of liquor.
It was then that Hermione caught a glimpse of a tall man with deep auburn hair and a moderately muscular build, dressed in black trousers and a white dress shirt. He walked straight up to the group of women, and they were all over him within seconds.
"Oooh, look at this hunk over here!"
"How are you doing, sweetie pie?"
Hermione scoffed as one woman rested a hand on his forearm, leaning close in a purely seductive move. The red-headed man wasn't moving away and instead flashed the woman a sultry grin. Hermione wondered if she would be the floozy that he would be taking home for the evening.
She thought, with certainty, that he had to be a male escort. He was quite the smooth talker and clearly was relaxed around a large group of women. He's done this before; she mused as she took the final sip of her cocktail. At that very moment, almost as if the man sensed her eyes studying him, he flickered his gaze over towards Hermione with a curious expression flashing across his face.
Hermione quickly averted her gaze, pretending to busy herself, stirring the remaining ice left in her glass. After waiting about ten more seconds, she lifted her eyes just slightly, flushing pink immediately as she realised the man's deep blue irises were still staring back. This time, he kinked an eyebrow at her, almost as if to challenge her gaze.
Hermione lowered her head once more, almost wishing she had a shot to gulp down. Okay, I've officially suffered enough embarrassment for one night. She had half a mind to gather her purse and quietly make her exit when a voice interrupted her thoughts.
"You look like you could use another drink."
Hermione's head snapped up to meet the familiar sparkling blue eyes of the man who had managed to sneak his way over to her when she wasn't looking.
"Oh, uhm…" She hesitated, staring at the empty glass in her hand.
"What's your drink of choice? Martini?" The man inquired.
Feeling braver, Hermione coolly answered, "Yes. Vesper, specifically."
He raised his eyebrows, "Well then, I'll be right back."
Feeling satisfied with herself, Hermione leaned back in her chair. She observed the hen party again over at the table next to her and snorted as one of the bridesmaids pulled out a bright pink feather boa and wrapped it around the bride-to-be's neck.
Hermione gasped as a martini glass appeared in front of her face unexpectedly, and she gracefully wrapped her fingers around the base, looking towards the gentleman who had returned with her drink. She took a small sip of the cocktail, humming approvingly as she tasted the familiar combination of vodka, gin, and French vermouth, with a splash of lemon for an added fruitiness.
"I have to say, I wasn't expecting your drink order. It's very James Bond of you." He sat down in the chair next to her and sent her a dazzling smile.
"That's what I was going for," she genuinely smiled back.
Curiously, she noticed that he did not have a drink for himself in his hand, but perhaps he didn't drink while working the business.
"I'm Ron," he introduced himself, holding out a hand.
"Pleasure. I'm Hermione."
"Hermione?" Ron hummed, "That's a very unique name."
"It's from Shakespeare's The Winter Tale."
"Ah," he expressed in interest, leaning back into his seat while crossing his arms. "So what brings you out here this evening, Hermione? Are you, uh, are you waiting for someone?"
He was clearly fishing for information on whether or not she had a partner, and she couldn't stop the warm feeling that spread through her. Stop it; this man is a professional. He does this all the time.
Hermione was certain it was the slight buzz from the alcohol that caused her to overshare the personal details about her life that came out of her mouth next. "No, actually, more like attempting to forget about having to travel back home to see my family for the first time in almost two years to attend my best friend's wedding as the maid of honour. During which time I have to face my ex-fiance, who also just so happens to be the best man." She ended her tirade by taking a large swig of her martini in a completely improper manner.
When she caught Ron's eyes as her glass parted from her lips, she noticed that he was staring at her with an impassive expression on his face. "Whoa...that is...a justifiable reason for not remaining sober tonight."
"Really? You don't think I'm barmy for attempting to avoid aspects of my life I probably should have confronted ages ago?" Hermione raised her eyebrows unconvincingly.
Ron merely shrugged and leaned forward, placing his elbows on the table. She caught a whiff of his aftershave, and she crossed her legs tightly, suddenly feeling the heat of the overcrowded room. "In my completely unbiased opinion from knowing practically nothing about you, aside from what you just told me, that ex-fiance of yours is likely sorry he lost ya, and you have a right to be a little bit anxious about being in his presence."
Wow, he really was quite the smooth talker. "Yes, that is exactly it, you don't know anything about me, but I appreciate the pep talk."
Ron chuckled and sent Hermione a lop-sided grin. "Hey now, I said practically nothing. I reckon I've managed to work out that you have decent taste in cocktails and that you have a knob of an ex-fiance."
Hermione tutted, "Don't forget an overbearing mother who pities me, as her only daughter, for getting dumped and is now entirely convinced that I will never marry."
"You know, this wedding actually sounds like a jolly good time," Ron smirked.
An idea formulated in Hermione's head, and she had just enough liquid courage to actually ask out loud:
"This may be a ridiculously forward question, but since you already believe it would be a jolly good time, would you by any chance be interested in actually attending this wedding with me?"
Ron was well aware that he really shouldn't be spending his time on the clock mingling and not serving other customers, but he couldn't bring himself to move away from this fascinating woman in front of him. She was dressed quite modestly for a nightclub, and he had the feeling she didn't visit these types of venues very often, yet she exuberated a specific confidence about her that intrigued him. He wanted to know more about this bird.
However, he certainly wasn't expecting her to boldly ask him out so soon. Pleased with the offer, he was about to inquire about the details of the event when her next words stopped him in his tracks,
"I'll pay you for your time, of course."
Pay me? But then he thought about how he was dressed, the setting, how she was observing him as a slew of women surrounded him, him offering her a drink before chatting her up...she thinks I am a bloody escort. The thought was unsettling to him, now seeing why she was broaching him so casually on the subject. She likely assumed that offering her a drink was an open invitation to discuss business ventures.
Normally, he would jump at the chance to rectify the misinterpreted information, but Chudley suddenly popped into his mind. Imagine what you could do with that money. Looking at the woman in front of him, she gave off the impression that she didn't typically make advances towards male escorts very often, if she ever even had before.
After brief consideration, that he hoped was not long enough of a pause for her to become suspicious, Ron nodded his head slowly. "I would be honored. When and where?"
Hermione straightened in her seat, looking both relieved and delighted. "Well, the wedding is two weeks from tomorrow. I am scheduled to leave on the morning of Wednesday, August 8th, departing by train to London. The wedding is on Saturday the 11th, and I plan to head back to Devon the following day, on the 12th. I know it's a lot to ask at the last minute, so I would of course completely understand if you can't make it."
Ron contemplated the dates. He would need to find someone to watch Chudley and make sure he could get the pub covered for a few days, both tasks he felt were feasible with the time he had to prepare. Besides, he hadn't really taken much time off from his owner responsibilities since...well...never. "Shouldn't be a problem."
Hermione dug through her purse and retrieved a pen to hand over to Ron. "Here, why don't you write your number on my hand, that way I can give you a call tomorrow with the details, and we can discuss payment."
Ron was mildly amused, as she held out her palm expectantly, yet followed her lead and hastily scribbled his number down for her.
"Brilliant," she beamed at him, just before a yawn escaped her lips. Ron thought the action was rather adorable.
"Looks like I'm boring you now," Ron teased as a guilty look crossed her face. He gestured his head towards the exit, "Come on, I'll call you a taxi." He pocketed the receipt for the drink he held in his hand. Well, he couldn't very well ask her to pay for her drink before she leaves now, could he? Guess he will be settling that tab on his own accord at the end of his shift.
A few minutes later, Ron led Hermione towards the familiar set of double doors at the club's front entrance, where a single car waited. She opened the back door and spun around to face him one last time, "Well, until next time, Mr..."
"Weasley," he smiled, "Ron Weasley."
"Until then, Mr. Weasley." Their eyes met for a brief moment, and Ron marveled at how her chocolate brown orbs seemed to sparkle back at him. In a flash, she was gone, deposited into the car with a final shut of the door behind her.
"There you are!" Fred poked his head out the club's front door, just as the car was pulling away. "We've been searching for you for ages!"
Ron stole one last glance at the taxi that was driving off into the distance. "I had to take care of someone who needed to find a ride home," he excused himself quickly. "Say, would you be able to watch Chudley for a few days in a couple of weeks?"
"Sure. Any particular reason?" Fred questioned.
Ron smiled to himself, "I think I'm going to London."